[Editor: This untitled article, about the issue of the proposed Port Wakefield and Kadina railway (on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia), was published in The Wallaroo Times and Mining Journal (Port Wallaroo, SA), 27 September 1873. The author has some choice things to say about the brains of some South Australian parliamentarians (see the 4th paragraph).]
[We should be neglecting a very grave duty]
We should be neglecting a very grave duty if we failed to allude to the pettifogging and narrow spirit displayed by a number of members of the House of Assembly when the adjourned debate took place on the second reading of the Port Wakefield and Kadina Railway Bill. The debate was what may be termed characteristic.
Mr Carr told hon. members that the Peninsula was in the position of a person who is said always to strike either too high or too low. If a line were asked for to Clare, this was considered unreasonable. Hon. members said they would have no objection to a line that should constitute a portion of the highway between the Peninsula and the metropolis; but they could not support one intended merely for the benefit of the Peninsula, such as one would be to Clare. Now that a line to Port Wakefield has been proposed they have made the discovery that they could conscientiously have voted for the Clare line.
We judge from the debate that the farce was too transparent. One speaker argued in favor of a line to Clare, and another in favor of one from Moonta to Parara, whilst others said they failed to understand what a district with only about 30,000 inhabitants in it — a very considerable proportion of the population of the colony — and without a yard of macadamised road over it, could want with a railway at all.
The junior member for the district was, we submit, perfectly justified in refusing to travel again over the old time-honored statistical table to be adduced of the rights and worth of the Peninsula. We are sick of telling it. Both of the leading journals of the colony have often said the Peninsula has been shamefully and scurvily treated by the powers that have existed in this colony. Those persons capacitated to understand this, know it, and need not that it should be explained to them again, and to explain it to those who cannot is a perfectly hopeless task. Nothing short of a surgical operation would meet their requirements. Their skulls should be trepanned, and the mixture denoting ignorance and prejudice, that does duty for brains, should be extracted. In lieu thereof a substance taken from the pericraniums of their first cousins might be inserted with advantage.
The junior member for the Peninsula was very careful to state, that whilst supporting the Bill, he was not to be considered to endorse any opinion that it was what was required to meet the wants of his constituents. The Parliament had been found by them to be even worse than the unjust judge in the parable who, although he “feared not God, nor regarded man,” granted the request of the importunate widow, “lest by her continual craving she weary me.” But, as Mr Duncan said, the Peninsula people preferred to take this line than go without. In fact, as we may concisely put it, they prefer a partial injustice to a whole one.
After he had finished, Mr Lake rose to make a ludicrous exhibition of his ignorance. The railway, said he, would bring no part of the colony nearer to the coast than it was before. To this, it might be replied, that the hundreds of farms near to the Hummock Ranges will not be nearer to the coast than before, as twenty miles will still remain betwixt the farmers and their customers; but, instead of an impassable road over the twenty miles, should there be a passable railway, it would be only reasonable to expect that communication would be facilitated. Then, continued Mr Lake, a private company proposed to make a railway from Moonta to Parara. There the hon. member’s dense ignorance of a subject respecting which his Port Adelaide prejudices were but too apparent, led him altogether astray. Subsequently, he had to confess that he was ignorant the private Co. — as he had chosen to call it — wished to be paid for the construction of the line out of the public estate.
Mr Ramsay, who followed Mr Lake, argued as ably as his predecessor against the proposed line. The people of Green’s Plains, said he, could now get to Kadina by travelling ten or twelve miles, and would they be likely to take their wheat to Port Wakefield, and pay 20 or 30 miles more haulage than was necessary? No one out of an asylum, save Mr Ramsay, would ever think of them doing so.
Of course, if the line be made, there must be a station at Green’s Plains. The Government lines in this colony are not constructed with stations upon them 30 miles apart. But Mr Angus was, as on previous occasions, one of the bitterest enemies of the Peninsula — why, we do not know, although we might give a shrewd guess. “As soon,” said he, “as the population on the Peninsula required it he would go in for a line such as they now had.” That would be, we suppose, after Mr Angus has assisted to muddle many millions of public money on roads where there is not a tithe of the population or the trade. Of course, we can understand Mr Angus, as a member of the Central Road Board, trying in an indirect manner to justify the disgraceful laches and partiality manifested by himself and his colleagues in making those roads they ought not to have made, and in leaving unmade those roads they ought to have made. But that is no reason why he should have talked the most incoherent nonsense about the subject on board.
“What,” said he, “was the wealth of the Peninsula to do with the matter? People had obtained it, and enriched themselves from mines on the Peninsula.” Of course, as he admitted, in so doing they had erected large works, and created employment for large numbers of persons. To reply to this is perfectly superfluous. If it means anything it must mean that in the opinion of Mr Angus railways should be made where there is neither trade nor population. Twenty years ago, in his opinion, the Peninsula deserved a railway — whilst there was only a squatter, a shepherd or two, and a few miserable blacks with their lubras upon it. Of the hon. member’s ignorant support of the Moonta and Parara line we need say nothing. He knows exactly as much of the Peninsula as he does of the open Polar Sea, and therefore he deserves to be pitied for his ignorance rather than blamed for his somewhat too palpable spite.
With very much more pleasure we turn to the speech of Mr Carr, who, as he seems to be very well aware, we have not always been able to agree with. There is this to be said that Mr Carr, in advocating the interests of the Peninsula, has always been consistent. Some of the best speeches in favor of a line of communication between this great mining population of consumers and the producers in the interior are reported in Hansard as having been made by Mr Carr. On the occasion in question he acquitted himself admirably. First he regretted the spirit of unfairness in which the subject had been treated by hon. members. In this remark we assume that we get at the whole merits of the case. There is the ghost of the old prejudice against Peninsula interests still haunting the House, although its master spirit has passed away. To the fact that but the ghost remains the Peninsula owes the second reading of the Kadina and Port Wakefield railway Bill without a division.
The Chief-Secretary, we observe, said that unless the Bill were passed, some provision must be made for a road for the mail to pass over. Then, should the Bill be passed, he should not consider the Government called upon to find funds for a road. All this we grant. But the farmers on Green’s Plains have recently had a meeting and decided to memorialize for a special grant of £5,000 to make the worst portion of their road prior to the Railway being finished — a matter of perhaps two or three years. To us the prayer of the memorial seems to be a most reasonable one. They are perfectly correct in stating that this road cannot be left as it is for two or three years longer. And even when the railway is made there will always be considerable traffic over the road.
The case is nearly a parallel one of the roads between Kadina and Wallaroo and between Wallaroo and Moonta. There are railroads between both of these places, but for all this, good roads are urgently required. Passenger trucks can only run occasionally, and the traffic over short distances by them will necessarily be limited. Every man who can do so, prefers to keep his horse, not only for business purposes, but also for pleasure and otherwise. Each farmer on Green’s Plains keeps his own horses, and when these are not otherwise wanted, he will prefer using them to the railway. And, as the Green’s Plains farmers very properly observed, the Government recognises its duty to provide means of communication to a market for settlers and free selectors who have not paid for their land. If so, not only ought the £5,000 the Green’s Plains farmers ask for to be at once granted, but it ought to have been years ago. It is only the disgraceful negligence of the Legislature to the wants of the district that has caused the need for such a requisition to arise.
The Wallaroo Times and Mining Journal (Port Wallaroo, SA), 27 September 1873, page 2 (columns 1-3)
betwixt = (archaic) between (“betwixt” can be abbreviated as: ’twixt)
Chief-Secretary = (usually rendered without a hyphen: Chief Secretary) the chief administrator of the government of South Australia, and a Minister in the Cabinet of the SA government; in October 1856 the position of Chief Secretary (1856-1989) replaced the position of Colonial Secretary (1836-1856), which fulfilled the role of chief administrator (under the Governor of SA)
Co. = an abbreviation of “Company”
Hansard = the official record of parliamentary proceedings
hon. = an abbreviation of “honourable”, especially used as a style to refer to government ministers, or as a courtesy to members of parliament (as a style, it is commonly capitalised, e.g. “the Hon. Member”)
laches = an unreasonable or undue delay in asserting, or bringing to court, a claim of wrongdoing (or a claim of legal right or privilege), which may therefore result in the claim’s dismissal
lubra = an Aboriginal woman
macadamise = to make a road surface with macadam, i.e. by laying and compressing successive layers of broken stones, usually bound together with asphalt or hot tar; named after John McAdam (1756–1836), the Scottish engineer who invented the process
memorialize = (also spelt: memorialise) to present a memorial (a statement of facts), often accompanied by a petition; to commemorate or preserve the memory of someone or something (such as a book, plaque, or statue depicting a meritorious person or a significant event)
pericranium = the periosteum (fibrous membrane) covering the external surface of the cranium (the skull, especially the round part of the skull which contains the brain)
pettifogging = to pettifog: to nitpick, to quibble over petty, trifling, or trivial matters; to pay too much attention to trivial, inconsequential, insignificant, petty, or unimportant details; (regarding lawyers) to conduct legal business in a petty, sly, tricky, or underhanded manner, or to legal mount cases over petty issues (the term “pettifogger”, i.e. someone who engages in pettifogging, comes from “petty”, meaning insignificant, minor, or small, and “fogger”, a slang term referring to a beggar or a huckster, although it can also refer to someone who is hired to feed cattle)
prayer = plea, ask, beg, petition, request; can also refer to: a communication with God (whether by spoken words or by thought), especially one including a request
public estate = the public funds, the government treasury; can also refer to: government-owned real estate
scurvily = in a scurvy manner, i.e. in a contemptible, despicable, disgusting, low, or mean manner (an insult derived from scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C)
tithe = a tenth part of something (10%); a voluntary contribution or offering (or, historically, a tax) given to the church (historically a tenth of one’s income, produce, or profits), or given to a clergyman, or to charity; a small part or proportion; a small levy or tax; (as a verb) to give, or pay, a small part or a tenth part (especially to one’s church)
trepan = a surgical instrument (also known as a “trephine”) used to drill a hole in a skull; to drill a hole in a skull in a medical procedure (in the past tense: trepanned; in the present or active tense: trepanning)
the unjust judge in the parable = a reference to the parable of a judge who granted the request of a widow against her adversary, because the judge found the continual requests by the widow to be wearisome (from Luke 18:2-5, in the Bible)
[Editor: Changed “Parlialiament had been” to “Parliament had been”; “althogether astray” to “altogether astray”. Placed double quotation marks before and after “What,” and before “was the wealth”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]